In 11th House District race, Foster and Laib differ greatly on climate change

The candidates for Illinois' 11th Congressional District seat have disparate opinions about climate change.

Incumbent Democrat Bill Foster of Naperville believes mankind primarily is responsible for changes to the global climate, while Republican challenger Rick Laib of Joliet doubts humans are to blame.

The candidates talked about climate change and other issues with the Daily Herald ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Scientists with NASA and other organizations have observed that Earth's surface temperature is rising more quickly than expected.

As a result, scientists say, significant changes to the environment are occurring. Sea levels are rising, glaciers are shrinking, ice is melting at a faster rate than usual in Greenland and on the polar continents and increased drought and insect infestations have led to more wildfires. Flooding and coastal erosion has worsened, too, including in the Chicago area.

Not everyone agrees that the climate is changing or that man's burning of fossil fuels for energy - thus increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - is responsible.

Foster, a former particle physicist seeking his sixth full term in Congress, insists climate change is real and largely man-made. He called it "one of the most serious challenges we face."

"It is a real threat to our children's future and our world's natural beauty and resources," Foster said. "If we fail to act, we will lose many of the landmarks and natural beauty that make this world so wonderful."

To address the issue, Foster said the U.S. should spend more to research ways to lower the costs of reliable, sustainable and clean energy.

As an example, he said decades of federally funded research at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont and elsewhere has resulted in batteries that cost less and perform better.

"As a result, in the next few years, the total cost of ownership of electric cars will be lower than gasoline-powered cars," Foster said. "When this price crossover takes place, we will no longer need to be arguing about (fuel economy) standards since nobody will want to buy a fossil fuel powered car."

Foster predicts that technology will adopted worldwide and dramatically lower humanity's carbon footprint.

Laib, a Will County sheriff's deputy making his first run for Congress, said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity. The arguments, he said, "are not conclusive."

"There is an absence of consensus among industry experts as to the threat of climate change," Laib said.

Still Laib said he is "open to the arguments."

Laib said private industries have developed technologies that can help care for the planet. The U.S. government should reduce taxes to encourage private companies to continue developing such technologies, he said.

The 11th District includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties.

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